Erhan Korhaliller isn't your average entrepreneur. With a vision that reaches far beyond the norm, he's challenging the status quo in the Web3 space as the founder and CEO of EAK Digital, one of the leading PR and Marketing agencies in web3 since 2017.
So what is it about this young London-born businessman turned digital nomad who has now cemented his name as a visionary in the industry in which he thrives? Keenly aware of the need to push the boundaries of what is possible in the Web3 space, Korhalliler explained the driving force behind his entrepreneurial endeavors.
"I was first lured into the decentralized world through the concept of decentralization, self sovereignty of wealth, and the elimination of trust via blockchain technology.As a non-developer, I looked at my skills and thought? How can I help foster adoption? That's when I decided to pivot EAK Digital to being a specialist PR agency focused on blockchain technology."
After learning more about the potential of bitcoin and blockchain technology, Erhan took it upon himself to make it his mission to build a successful business in the blockchain industry.
" I took it upon myself to jump into this new industry, and go to every major crypto event in the world throughout 2018-2019, this enabled me to grow a vast global network that had a direct impact on the success of EAK Digital and its clients" Erhan said.
After 2 years of globe trotting, Erhan started to get disillusioned at the uninspiring and similar approach that event organizers worldwide were bringing to the table.
"I was thinking, where is the innovation in these events? We work in an industry with some incredibly creative and talented minds, yet our events scene is largely uninspiring. I was then driven by a desire to create memorable and unique experiences, whilst still holding the business benefit that an attendee expects from attending an event. With the growth of the creator economy and NFT's in 2021, It became clear that our event's need to innovate in order to keep this new creative crowd in web3 engaged."
"The Early Days: From AKQA to EAK Digital."
It's clear that Korhalliler's drive and passion have been key factors in his success, but where did it all start?
His early career saw Korhalliler as part of the world-renowned creative agency AKQA; this first foray into the bright lights of agency life was in his early 20s as a project manager. Speaking on his experience and how it shaped his desire to build his own entrepreneurial legacy, Korhalliler notes that at AKQA, he was fortunate enough to work on projects for major clients like Nike, Rolls Royce, and Barclaycard.
"This experience exposed me to the intricacies of agency life, working alongside some of the worlds best creatives and technologists at AKQA gave me the confidence to envision creating my own agency, EAK Digital, back in 2016 when I was just 26."
After leading his team to win many accolades, including the prestigious Platinum Award from Campaign Magazine, Korhallier made the decision to focus purely on his own business.
His Web3 agency EAK Digital was established completely from scratch and now boasts an international team of 30, comprising industry professionals and experts who are located across the globe.
"Overcoming Challenges: The Journey isn't Always Smooth"
However, it hasn't been smooth sailing, and Korhaliller has faced many challenges along the way, such as dealing with global recessions, dramatic downturns in the cryptocurrency market and even having to cancel the inaugural Istanbul Blockchain Week due to Covid-19. When asked how he overcomes obstacles and turns them into opportunities, his reply is simple:
"As an entrepreneur, I believe it's essential to be adaptable and resilient".
"When Istanbul Blockchain Week was postponed, that was a real blow for us, as we had invested a lot of time and finances into bringing that project to life. Nevertheless, we pivoted to create the world's first virtual web3 event, the BlockDown Conference series, which then inspired the in-person BlockDown Festival. I think it's important to stay focused on your goals and turn challenges into opportunities for growth and innovation."
Korhalliler's ability to adapt and innovate is a testament to his resilience and entrepreneurial spirit.
"The success of the virtual series of BlockDown Conference (which spanned 7 editions) proved there was a strong appetite for a new format of events, that are focused on the experience, and that pushed the boundaries of what had been seen before, like, a metaverse networking boat party, live NFT Drops, live Q and A sessions , mastermind roundtable metaverse discussions, passionate 1 on 1 debates with industry leaders and live DJ performances to cool off afterwards"
Korhalliler adds: "Once the pandemic was over, in line with our origin story, we decided to pivot to a festival style format. In pivoting to this new style, its not only a much richer and more enjoyable experience for guests, it has the opportunity to bring in 1000's of new entrants to web3 by creating a format that the non crypto crowd can relate too. This inspired us to create BlockDown Festival, a way to merge the latest technological trends and gamification of web3 with real-life experiences and activations".
The first BlockDown Festival in Croatia was a groundbreaking event, and now preparation is full steam ahead for the next edition in Portugal on 10-12 July. With BlockDown Festival: Croatia '22 setting the stage, Korhalliler is aiming to make BlockDown Festival: Portugal '23 even more spectacular, expanding the boundaries of web3 culture further.
BlockDown attendees can expect an exceptional mix of music, sports, fashion, arts and entertainment related web3 content including cutting edge talks, a Bored Ape Yacht Party (the most successful NFT collection in history no less), Metaverse fashion shows, epic VIP boat cvae tour experiences and networking on an epic scale.
And what of the future of BlockDown Festival?
"Our long-term vision is to make BlockDown Festival a global phenomenon, with events in every continent, celebrating the advancements and excitement of the web3 world. With creativity and innovation driving our mission, I believe the possibilities are endless".
When asked about his proudest achievements, Korhalliler, whose agency, EAK Digital, also organizes Istanbul Blockchain Week has plenty to share:
"I'm particularly proud of the successful execution of Istanbul Blockchain Week, the largest web3 event in the Eurasia region. The high rates of crypto adoption and trading volume seen in Turkey made me passionate that Turkey wouldn't just be seen as a consumer of this technology but also as a contributor. By providing the best global speakers, investors, and developers into Turkey, Istanbul Blockchain Week fosters business opportunities, education and collaboration with a very talented and enthusiastic Turkish community of which we are now starting to see the fruits of.
Since Istanbul Blockchain Week in November 2022, which attracted 3500+ attendees, a particularly impressive number in the 2022 bear market, Istanbul has seen hackathons hosted by major layer one blockchains such as Solana, Cosmos and Ethereum.
Naturally, Korhalliler is also immensely proud of the BlockDown Festival series. Looking back at previous speaker line ups of the BlockDown series, the speaker lists a 'who's who' of nearly every major name in web3 and crypto.
" At BlockDown Conference, we were able to attract a diverse range of inspirational speakers like Akon, Edward Snowden, Charles Hoskinson, Gavin Wood and Changpeng Zhao and it has been very inspiring working with such visionary individuals.
"They bring unique perspectives to the table and challenge us to think bigger and push the boundaries of what's possible in the web3 space. These collaborations have reaffirmed my belief in the transformative potential of this technology and motivated me to be a driving force for innovation".
"Looking Forward: The Future of BlockDown Festival and EAK Digital"
Looking to the future, Korhaliller plans to move further into venture capital, whilst expanding EAK Digital, bringing BlockDown Festival across continents and cementing Istanbul Blockchain Week as one of the worlds most anticipated blockchain events in the calendar whilst attracting the very best projects to the Turkish market.
By remaining curious, embracing innovation, and surrounding himself with other forward-thinking individuals, Korhaliller is on track to play his part in shaping the future of web3 and unlock its greatest potential:
"I am confident that, together, as a community, we can grow the web3 industry curating memorable events that onboard the mainstream into web3"
With such determination and vision, there's no doubt that Korhaliller and his ventures will continue to make waves in the years to come. In the ever-evolving Web3 world, Erhan Korhaliller stands as a testament to the power of innovation and paved the way for a new era of Web3 events.